It is cold here in Perth. The sun is shining beautifully, it looks cheery and inviting, but with the faint breeze, the cold bites and makes you shiver in the bright light...in case you didn't guess, I am missing the summer warmth. As my dad and I were mutually lamenting a few weeks back; after five months of the heat, we are complaining that some cool weather is in order, but after just a week of the cold, we are wishing back the hot sun!
We have just arrived home after a quick jaunt to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. It was hot - 32-34 degrees with 98% humidity and even with the sweat, it was heavenly to thaw out! We walked the malls, because as the number one shopping destination in South East Asia, it is a must. However, our favorite activities were not the epic halls of women's bags - sooo many bags - we loved the outdoor activities the most: KL Bird and Butterfly Parks, the long steps up to Batu Caves, braving the hawkers at Chinatown and Little India, and the best, KL Central Market.
We spotted only one bee in the time we were in KL - at the Bird Park. She was teeny tiny compared to a more full figured ladies here in Perth. Eastern Honeybees are more compact, and much more sensitive to management then their Western counterparts. Asian apiarists tend to collect a swarm at the start of the season, cross their fingers that the bees stay in the hive for a few months, and collect the honey once the bees abscond. Unlike our bees here, the Eastern Honeybee objects to interference and will only tolerate minimal management from the beekeeper.
The Butterfly Park was hot, humid and beautiful with the thousands and thousands of butterflies in the lush gardens. Across a vast, enclosed free-flight space, the butterflies chased each other and fed at the various feeding stations around the place.
Poor Mr T ended up having to defend his honour in Chinatown - after telling many vendors that I didn't like bags (shoes are a completely different matter!), the hawkers started telling Mr T to buy his wife a bag. He also told them that 'she doesn't like bags or want a bag' and every vendor started hassling him: 'every wife needs a bag, and wants a bag, and good husbands buy their wives bags'...Because they were ALL selling the same thing, and could hear every conversation we had, it spread like wildfire! We had a great laugh about it (really, I didn't want a knock off bag - or even a genuine one) because the next day, Mr T found a gorgeous tote bag for me at Central Market! Handmade by a local designer, collapsible for easy storage - and I got to choose all my own colours! I can't wait to use it for the beach this summer.
Central Market was more our style - handcrafts, handmade and local artisan products - and we wandered around letting the kids do some batik painting, talked with vendors about market in Perth, and even dunked our feet in the fish massage tank! It was very amusing and kinda gross too since the fish were literally scrapping off the dead skin from our feet :-/ This market was a permanent structure, similar to Subiaco Station Market and has been operating for over a century. It was very laid back and the vendors weren't pushy like the street markets at Chinatown and Little India. We all bought gifts, shoes (with bees on them!) and clothes there :-)
There was also a honey shop and it was interesting to chat with the lady who was running it. She was quite bemused at our constant chatter and when we wanted to try all the honey! The 'wild honey' in SE Asia tastes very similar to the maple syrup. It is very runny and light. The shop was offering bee pupae in tablet form, bee venom honey and some international honeys as well. The shop was certainly different to my little stall! We topped the night off by being invited up on stage during the cultural dance that was put on by some amazingly costumed dancers :-)
Now it is back to reality...and it's still cold!